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And the Winner Is…

We had two winners last night at our Opening Ceremony of We Are Water MN. One wins an annual MN State Park pass and the other earns bragging rights. More on this in a moment.

Angel Lopez: finger painting

First, a little background on We Are Water MN. We started our water journey back in the spring of 2019 with an in-depth application to the Minnesota Humanities Center. Before deciding whether or not we should even apply for the grant, I reached out to area businesses to see if this was something we should pursue. I figured that without support, there would be no reason to apply in the first place.

I received a resounding yes from a handful of key organizations and went ahead with the submission. After we found out that Meinders Community Library had received the grant and that Pipestone would be a host community for the We Are Water MN exhibit, our community partners got busy planning. Wind of this great project was picked up by a news outlet and I was asked by a very inquisitive journalist, “When did you become so passionate about water?” This question was followed by a slew of others that included words and phrases like “groundwater”, “WRAPS”, “pollution”, “purification”, “parts per million” etc, etc, etc. (Here is where I lost track of the conversation and got lost in my own head.)

Confession 1: I had seen a video of the We Are Water MN traveling exhibit and knew that we had to have it here. So I could see it. And interact with it. And share it. Because exhibits are cool. And this one is tailored to our corner of the prairie, making it doubly cool.

Confession 2: I had an ulterior motive that did not include water at all. It included people. Water was simply the tangible piece of the puzzle that would help me reach this goal. In a nutshell, water is the one thing that we all have in common no matter where we come from or what we do. We all use water, need water, and connect through water. But, we all use it, need it, and connect through it in different ways. In my mind, bringing people together to hear these unique perspectives, laying the ground work for shared experiences via water-themed programs, and providing a safe place for open conversation seemed like a great way to invest in our community.

Confession 3: The inquisitive journalist was clearly much more passionate and knowledgeable about water than I. Her next question brought me back to reality–and I’m paraphrasing because it took a moment to fully engage with said reality, “It doesn’t seem like you know all the things there is to know about water that you should know to fully help others know….(insert a wee bit of Charlie Brown’s teacher and a lot of self doubt here)…is this going to be a problem?”

Was it? I cycled back through my first two confessions before answering. “Of course not.”

My librarian mind, the one that literally spends her days researching facts and digging up good info through reliable sources, argued that I didn’t need to know anything about water to pull off the requirements of this grant. All I needed to do was find the people who actually knew the facts. I simply needed to find the reliable resources. And I found them in our community partners and in our collaborators, our volunteers, and our presenters.

From the fall of 2019 until yesterday, our partners trained, met, and planned. Their time, talents, and tenacity turned a dream into a reality. Our volunteers and community collaborators worked their tails off so the vision on paper could become the reality. My deepest thanks goes to the dozens of people who played a role in last night’s success. My gratitude is extended to all the individuals who took time out of their lives and showed up for a night of food, fun, and education. Programs never work without someone to enjoy them. And last night definitely worked.

During the Opening Ceremony, we heard that water is one of the greatest resources we have. It is also one we need to monitor, care for, and preserve. The same is true for relationships. Our community is one of the greatest resources we have. The proof of that was on display at 6:00pm last night on the library lawn.

Opening Ceremony Presentation

Following the Opening Ceremony program, we hosted a Water Bar with local water samples and asked participants to tell us which water came from Pipestone and to pick their favorite. Samples were collected from the following places:

  1. Edgerton Public Library
  2. Split Rock Creek State Park
  3. Pipestone City Water from the tap
  4. Filtered Water from Meinders Community Library
  5. Hatfield Roadhouse (Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water)
  6. Van Hoecke Farms from the tap (Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water)

Winner 1: Alaina Biegler, the lucky, randomly drawn participant who correctly guessed which water sample was from Pipestone (#3). Alaina won an annual Minnesota State Park pass which gets her into all of Minnesota’s 66 state parks and 9 recreation areas. Her family’s water story is also featured on one of the We Are Water MN exhibit panels.

Winner 2: Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water from the Van Hoecke Farm (#6). Overwhelmingly, samplers agreed that this water was the most delicious in the area. Congrats to all living north of town who get their rural water through LPRW. Just be careful who you brag to lest you find yourself hosting a plethora of tea-time visitors.

As intended, this sampling kicked off a lively discussion. Most wanted to know why water from one source (Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water) wouldn’t always taste the same. According to Jason Overby, the answer is in the well. While LPRW serves a large area, it sources its water from different wells throughout the region. Not only that, but water flavor can also be impacted by they way water is treated, any fortifications added such as fluoride, or the pipes used to carry water from the source to the tap. Further, your own body’s chemistry can influence how you perceive water flavor.

What makes water good? We invite you to find out. Sample water wherever you go. What does it taste like? How does it feel on your tongue? What is the same or different about it compared to other water you’ve sampled?

We invite you to share your water stories with those around you and to connect with others in your community at our remaining We Are Water MN events.

Pipestone has a fantastic water story. It’s a story that has no end, but one we undeniably play a leading part in. On behalf of all our partners, we invite you to stop by the library between now and September 13 to explore our state’s water story and our role within it.

confession 4: water is a valuable resource, and so is community. in my opinion both need deliberate and thoughtful preservation~ jody

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